Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Social Media: Who is responsible? The ball or the player who kicks it?

Is it the ball or the player?
Last week an article was published in a well known website whose title was "5 Reasons Social Media is Killing Marketing" and it generated quite an interesting conversation around it.

Personally, I would like to share with you my opinion on this issue, because I’m convinced it is important to clarify some concepts before they might be misinterpreted by young entrepreneurs and business people who can really come to think marketing is dead and social media are guilty of such death.

Social media is an additional marketing tool in your bag.

If there is someone who says social media are "the magic bullet to generate sales," as the article reads, then that person is making a serious mistake. Like any tool, social media, by themselves, don’t do anything.

They become either effective tools or not, depending on the way you put them to use not otherwise. Hence the title of this article: A ball parked in a soccer field by itself, is nothing more than a tool. It becomes an effective tool, or not, depending on the foot and skills of the player who kicks it, there is nothing more to it.

If social media has created "a generation of young professionals who speak instead of listening", it is responsibility of these professionals, not the platform they are working with.

Social media haven’t killed anything: They opened up another channel to interact with your audience.

Much is said that if you look for the quantity rather than quality, it’s a mistake. And it doesn’t have to be that way. In social media, as in many other things in life, there are no absolutes and, as Einstein said, everything is relative in this world.

Even though I’m a strong believer in quality over quantity, I also recognize that if your strategy is simply to gain as much visibility as possible, then quantity is the goal you’re gonna be going after.

It all depends on the lens through which you look at it, and the glass will be the goals you want to accomplish with your social media presence. For some people, it will be quality, for others quantity. At some times you'll want to generate conversations, others you’ll want to generate sales.

Everything will depend on the goals you have set, and on that, platforms like Facebook and Twitter can do nothing for you. If you use them incorrectly your goals will not be achieved, and you have to have that clear on your mind as it’s nobody's fault but only yours.

Social networks complement your marketing strategies.

Keep in mind you are doing business with human beings, and because it is people like you and me, at the end of the day, we all like to deal with humans whenever possible.

I say "whenever possible" because, again, there are no absolutes in this thing. There are companies with whom I have done business without having to interact with a live person.

However, in these cases, the company has made available for me communication channels to resolve my doubts and questions, such as online chat, Twitter accounts and others. Again, whenever you have the chance, establish with your customers a direct and personal contact, which is always more effective, even if it’s over the phone.

Social networks are always a complement to your marketing strategies, sometimes a very effective addition, other times not so much, but they’re there to be a piece of your overall marketing mix and help you achieve your goals, not to replace all marketing channels.

There is no need to choose between one or the other.

You don´t have to go either only digital or offline. It’s not like that. What is clear is that you shouldn’t put all your eggs in just one basket. The future of social networks isn’t certain and clear, as they might come and go, as has already happened in some other cases.

Nobody can guarantee Facebook will continue as the leader within 10 years, therefore, your marketing strategy should not only count on this platform, nor in any other for that matter.

Your company must have a comprehensive marketing plan, not focused on any specific platform, but properly built upon a mix of all platforms required to efficiently reach your customers, both potential and current.

That's why the key is orchestration: All your marketing efforts, and all platforms you’ve decided to use, should all work as a great orchestra in which the ultimate goal is a sweet melody: achieving your goals.

The big problem is improvisation: Not having a plan.

As with most things in life, in marketing and social networks not having a plan is almost synonymous of disaster. But marketing isn’t the one to blame, or social networks for that matter. The responsibility is on you, for not having a plan or clarity on your goals.

Social networks have been a great addition to the way we do marketing. A new tool. A very powerful one indeed. However, as the ball in a soccer field, if it falls into the hands of a non-skilled player, then wonderful things will never occur.

I recommend you read the article that inspired this post. When you do, think that social media are like the ball. What happens will depend on the player kicking it, not the ball itself.

Don’t you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments area, and you’ll enrich this little conversation.

Article that inspired me: 5 Reasons Social Media Marketing is Ruining Marketing.
Related article: Did you put all your eggs in just one basket? and also the Relationships’ value: What can you expect from Social Media?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

SMB can also be written with G of Greatness.

With G for "Greatness"
A couple of days ago, while talking with a very dear friend, Joaquín Gómez (@Gomezbar39) we commented about certain practices occurring in companies, (not so regular practices if we could say).

Practices which are often associated with small businesses’ operations, or companies that don’t have great facilities, great capitals, or even the possibility of having a strong payroll, specialized in each business’ area of ​operation.

A comment made by Joaquín during our conversation, strongly caught my attention: "Welcome to the S of SMB", as it reminded me that these irregular practices not only occur in small but also large corporations, and that, I have proven on my own experience.

That's when I realized that the difference between a small business and a large corporation is not the size, nor capital, nor assets, nor a large customer base, but the mentality of its officers, directors, or of those who have the power to make decisions.

A business’ greatness begins on the mind of its owner.

Being an SMB doesn’t have to be a sentence that forces you to manage your business punch after punch, making your decisions as the great foreman squeezing his pawns, hiding from suppliers and being late with his payments.

Being an SMB doesn’t have to be a bad excuse or a false justification for the inappropriate management of your business. Quite the contrary.

Being a small business is a great opportunity to be different in a society that cries out for people to show that things can be done the right way, even with limited resources. It’s an excellent opportunity to set an example, to rise the bar, and make money while doing things right.

The difference between a SMB written with S for “small” and one written with G for “greatness” really relies on your mindset as an entrepreneur, the ideas you have, in the illusion that you put into your business, in the way you project it towards the future and how all these things apply to your daily operations.

In fact, with the right mindset and attitude your company can be much more efficient than larger corporations, and can also create a more positive environment both internally, within the company itself, and externally towards your customers and suppliers.

Let the S in SMB only refer to the size of your company and not the way you manage it.

For the times being, a change of course is required to be made. The inertia and heavy weight of the economic crisis is creating really deplorable scenes in many areas, not to mention its impact on those families which are really hurt and doing bad.

Make sure that the S of SMB only serves to identify your company by its size and limitations, but that has nothing to do with the way you manage your business and make decisions.

It is a good time to show that quality is not achieved with money but with effort and hard work. Manage your business with a capital G of greatness, with good, honest and transparent management, focusing on delivering good service and better quality and adding value to your relationships,

You’ll see how things begin to be different within your business and, who knows, you might already be closer to moving to the M of “Medium Size” business.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Advertising, marketing and sales: Why are they so regularly mixed up?

Advertising, marketing & sales.
If you take a look at the photograph illustrating this article, you'll find there are three newborn babies, cute and beautiful.

Three babies that are identical triplets and each will have its own name, although certainly more than once people will confuse them with each other. It is normal and happens all too often.

With advertising, marketing and sales it happens the same way: They are frequently used on an interchangeable way. It’s not uncommon to hear business owners refer to "marketing plans" when they really mean "sales activities", or want to do a "marketing campaign", when they really want to do some "advertising".

It is a fairly common situation, but it can have important consequences.

Where lies the difference between these three terms?

The difference is that, despite being so closely related, as the three little girls in the picture (yes, they are three little girls), each has its own name and personality. And since they are so different from each other, you should really make an effort to get to know them a little bit more.

You know I like to share with you using day-to-day words, so I will try to define for you, in simple words, what each one of them means for me.

Marketing is all you have to do to get your product from your hands to your customer’s. That’s why we find here the famous four "Ps" which stand for Price, Product, Place and Promotion. Marketing controls and has to do with all of them.

If either one of them is missing, your marketing strategy would not be complete. Marketing is then fundamentally about strategy, planning, and knowledge.

Advertising is communication. It’s about letting people know something about your product, company or brand. It’s about movement of information. Remember that your customers can’t buy from you if they don’t know that you exist and become familiar with what you offer. Regardless of the class or type of communication action you put together to make people aware of what you have, advertising is simply a communicational process.

Sales is the transaction itself. The moment of truth. It’s the change of ownership of your product or service. It’s the process that allows your product to leave your side and become your customers’ belonging. And it could be the most important process of all, because it’s the one that generates the revenue.

And I say the most important one, because if your marketing strategy, with its corresponding advertising campaign, doesn’t generate sales, it could be considered a failure.

Why is it important to know the difference between each of them?

Precisely because if you don’t know what the differences are, you're probably not making the most out of what you are doing and, therefore, are unlikely to achieve the results you’re expecting to, or even worse, you will not be getting the maximum results you could get if done properly.

I'll show you a couple of examples and will try to explain you, in a very simple way, what fails:

  • You have a salesperson who goes out to work without having catalogs of your products: What is the problem? Your marketing strategy fails to consider the "P" to promote the development of appropriate product literature to give support to the sales people.
  • You have a website through which your customers can’t buy your product or doesn’t indicate where they can buy it: What is the problem? Your communication strategy fails, by not closing the circle that should bring every prospective client to where purchases can actually be done.

And as such, I daily encounter situations like this, in which the actions taken show, quite clearly, people don’t fully understand the many (and sometimes sublime) differences between advertising, marketing and sales.

If we were to leave it as a summary:

Marketing equals strategy
Advertising equals communication
Sales equals money.

In your company’s case, do you recognize the difference between each of the triplets? Or do you refer to advertising, when what you really meant was sales?

Related Articles: Marketing: Where can we find the starting point?